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Handbook of Social Work in Health and Aging$
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Barbara Berkman and Sarah D'Ambruoso

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195173727

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195173727.001.0001

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Older Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Transgender Persons

Older Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Transgender Persons

(p.273) 22 Older Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Transgender Persons
Handbook of Social Work in Health and Aging

Sandra S. Butler

Oxford University Press

Although the experience of aging for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) individuals is in many regards indistinguishable from that of their non-GLBT counterparts, there are nonetheless special circumstances and a history of discrimination that bear noting when working with this population. There is considerable diversity within the GLBT community itself. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender elders vary in characteristics such as cultural, ethnic, or racial identity; physical ability; income; education; history of marriage and/or child rearing; and place of residence. They also vary in terms of the degree to which their GLBT identities are central to their own self-definition, and their level of affiliation with other GLBT individuals and organizations. This chapter examines social work practice with GLBT older adults. The purpose is to introduce practitioners to information and resources so that they might better serve older GLBT individuals. It begins by tracing some of the historical events and circumstances that have shaped the lives of the current cohort of GLBT elders. The invisibility of GLBT elders will be discussed next, a phenomenon that has resulted from a history of discrimination and oppression. GLBT elders bring certain unique strengths to the aging process; they also face some particular challenges. These are outlined, along with suggested practice guidelines.

Keywords:   aging, elderly, gays, lesbian, transgender individuals, social work practice

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